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Photo via Unsplash

Database Provider


Rustam Qbic


4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th


Social Studies, Visual and Performing Arts

Resource Type

  • Artwork

Regional Focus


"Recycling Kingdom"

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  • This mural by Rustam Qbic features three children riding a whale that glides through polluted water.
  • Qbic's mural is a part of a project to paint marine-focused, environmental murals in Napier, New Zealand. 
  • Students can read the artist's statement, which explains that the mural should inspire viewers to think about how pollution and waste will impact future generations. 
Teaching Tips


  • This mural captures the resilient and resourceful nature of children, while also showing the stark reality of the polluted, garbage-ridden world that future generations will inherit if people refuse to make bold environmental changes.
  • Students can view a series of photographs that show the artist working on the mural to learn more about his process.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Teachers with younger students may need to explain that the dark patches in the water are oil.


  • English language arts or creative writing classes could use this mural as a writing prompt. Students could write a short story or poem about the figures depicted in the artwork.
  • Art classes could discuss the symbolism in the mural. Teachers could encourage students to think about how the whale, the crown, and the cardboard house might convey messages about sustainability and environmental health.
  • Other resources on this topic include this video about the danger of plastic pollution in the ocean, this Khan Academy video on how humans impact aquatic environments, and this video on solid waste disposal.
Scientist Notes
The artwork shows the present un-balanced and egocentric nature of environmental degradation by humans. This is a call to take action to achieve our sustainable development goals. The resource is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Visual & Performing Arts
    • Visual Arts: Standard 7 - Perceiving and analyzing products.
      • 1.5.5.Re7b: Analyze visual arts including cultural associations.
      • 1.5.8.Re7a: Explain how a person's aesthetic choices are influenced by culture and environment, and how they impact the way in which visual messages are perceived and conveyed.
    • Visual Arts: Standard 8 - Interpreting intent and meaning.
      • 1.5.8.Re8a: Interpret art by analyzing how the interaction of subject matter, characteristics of form and structure, use of media, art making approaches, and relevant contextual information contributes to understanding messages or ideas and mood conveyed.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 4-ESS3-1. Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and that their uses affect the environment.
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